Makes 6 burgers · Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes · Active time: 20 minutes

Well, everyone loves burgers and this is a fine, upstanding, burger-citizen made with some of my favorite ingredients. Brown rice, lentils and beets! They all combine to form the perfect storm of vegan burgerness. It’s not that they taste exactly like hamburgers or anything, but they do taste exactly like awesome veggie burgers. Rice provides hearty texture to give you a substantial bite. Lentils are my go-to ground meat, so they were a natural addition. And beets give the burger an intense (vaguely disturbing) meat-like appearance, but they also add a lot of flavor, earthy and slightly sweet. Just something that takes your VB to the next level. Make the mixture the morning of or evening before to have these on the table in no time.

Recipe notes

* One very important part of this recipe is the cooking method. You want to get the burger charred. Not burnt, but charred, which really just means, uh, burnt only in some places. The best way to achieve this is with a very hot cast iron pan. Other pans may react differently to high heat and may not give you that perfect char. So if you’re not using a cast iron pan, the next best thing would be to transfer them to a baking pan after cooking, brush with oil and stick them under the broiler for a few minutes.
* If you’d like to bake these instead, do so at 375°F, 8 to 10 minutes each side, then stick under the broiler to brown them.
* I use a food processor to make these happen quickly, so you’ll have to do some finagling if you don’t have one. You can shred the beets with a hand shredder, then use a potato masher to mash everything together. It will come out a bit chunkier, but still yummy!
* If you have a tree-nut allergy, then sunbutter or tahini will make an excellent substitution!

  • 1 1/4 cups cooked, cooled brown rice
  • 1 cup cooked brown or green lentils, drained well
  • 1 cup shredded beets
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, rubbed between your fingers
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel (or finely crushed fennel seed)
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 3 tablespoons very finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons smooth almond butter
  • 1/2 cup very fine breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil for the pan

To serve:

6 burger buns, shredded lettuce, sliced dill pickles, finely diced onion and ketchup. I would add a layer of avocado instead of a vegan cheese, but that’s just me.

Peel beets and shred with the shredder attachment of your food processor, then transfer to a mixing bowl and set aside.

Back to the food processor, switch out the shredder attachment for a metal blade. Pulse the brown rice, shredded beets and lentils 15 to 20 times, until the mixture comes together but still has texture. It should look a lot like ground meat.

Now transfer back to the mixing bowl and add all the remaining ingredients: salt, pepper, thyme, fennel, dry mustard, onion, garlic, almond butter, and breadcrumbs. Use your hands to mix very well. Everything should be well incorporated, so get in there and take your time, it could take a minute or two.

Place the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

Preheat a cast iron pan over medium-high. Now form the patties. Each patty will be about 1/3 cup of mixture, and should be formed into 3/4 inch thick discs.

Pour a very thin layer of oil into the pan and cook patties for about 12 minutes, flipping occasionally. Drizzle in a little more oil or use a bottle of organic cooking spray as needed. Burgers should be charred at the edges and heated through.

Serve warm! They taste pretty great heated up as well, so if you want to cook them in advance, refrigerate, then gently heat in the pan later on.